Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The other 31-31 problem

Last night, Senate republicans walked away from the negotiating table, punting the question of who rightfully holds the title of Majority Leader back to the court. Not only is it inadvisable to draw the court into a legislative matter, but this also means that whoever comes out on top will be crowned Majority Leader without actually commanding the support of a majority of the chamber.

Even if Senator Espada is entitled to two votes as acting Lieutenant Governor, neither the Constitution nor the Senate rules allow him to count double toward the 32 Senators necessary to constitute a quorum and conduct official Senate business. The coalition cannot govern without the participation of Senate Democrats, who have little incentive to cooperate given that the coalition is unwilling to concede any power.

While it’s no secret that both parties are responsible for Senate operations grinding to a halt last week, Skelos and Espada’s apparent willingness to hold the people’s business hostage rather than to negotiate is audacious even for Albany.

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